Patience can overcome bad start while playing poker

Sep 18, 2012 3:00 AM

Are you one of the many poker players who lack patience? Without patience, you cannot be a winner. It requires fortitude, staying power and, most of all, self-discipline. Are you up to it while sitting at the poker table?

You came to the casino to play poker. You enjoy the challenge and excitement of “rivering” your opponents or pulling off a bluff. You also know that starting hand selection is critical to being a winner at the poker table. In fact, as you entered the casino, you silently promised yourself that you would play your A-game – the very best you can play. That takes patience.

After signing up to play and then anxiously biting your fingernails for about ten minutes (it seemed much longer), you are called to a $4-$8 limit table. Seated in the cut-off position, you tell the dealer to deal you in. Finally! You’re playing poker…

Your first hand

You look down at your hole cards: Q-6 suited. One opponent limps from a middle position. At best, you have a very marginal drawing hand. It’s even worse than that, but you don’t want to admit it.

You have studied Lou Krieger’s “Start Chart” for starting hands in his Hold’em Excellence book. And you have learned the Hold’em Algorithm in George “The Engineer” Epstein’s Hold’em or Fold’em? booklet. Both urge you to fold that hand. But you are anxious to play poker. And, besides, you are in a late position. That gives you an edge over your opponent. So you call the blind bet. Three of you see the flop, including the Big Blind.

The flop misses your suit but pairs your 6. You know the odds: With unpaired hole cards, one out of three hands, you will pair up. So it’s no surprise. There is one overcard to your pair on the board, a big red king.  The Big Blind makes the $4 bet. The next players fold to you. No question in your mind, you should fold too.

It’s just you against the bettor. It’s almost certain that your opponent’s hand is better than your pair of 6s with queen kicker. You haven’t played at the table long enough to evaluate what type of player he is, but why else would he be betting from the blind? Kings beat 6s every time.

You are sure that you must improve your hand to take the pot at the showdown. You are convinced that bluffing won’t work in this situation. Assuming your opponent has a bigger pair than your 6s, you have 5 outs to make trip 6s or two pair, queens and 6s. You have learned the 4-2 Rule: 5 outs x 4 gives you about 20% probability of improving on the turn or the river.

So, about 80% of the time you will not connect. That gives you card odds of about 4-to-1 against you. After the rake, the pot odds are much less than that. By all reasoning, you should muck your hand.

“Let me see one more card,” you think to yourself. “Maybe I’ll get lucky. It’s only a $4 bet.” To make a long story short, the turn is a blank. When the Big Blind makes the $8 bet, you decide that it’s time to fold. At last!

Patience essential

Your chip stacks are now $8 smaller. You bought in with $100 and are now 8% poorer. Do that 12 times in a session, and you will have lost all of your buy-in! It’s all because you were anxious to get involved.

You knew that hand wasn’t a good investment from the get-go and just didn’t have the patience. The ability to wait until you are dealt a decent starting hand is essential if you truly want to be a winner. Try it. You won’t be sorry. Or else accept your fate.

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